Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan, Caroline Pidgeon and Darren Johnson (standing in for Sian Berry) lock horns at annual #LandAidDebate.

On 23rd February, Redwood joined longstanding pro-bono client LandAid and more than 300 members of the property and construction industries to watch London’s leading mayoral candidates battle it out over one of the biggest questions on the capital’s political agenda – how to solve London’s housing crisis.

The annual debate, hosted at Central Hall Westminster and sponsored by Savills, saw candidates contest everything from foreign investment to affordability in relation to housing policy in a 90 minute debate chaired by the BBC’s Sir Martyn Lewis.

This year’s event, which has already raised over £50,000, was well attended by members of the trade and national media and, as a result of Redwood’s support, has received across the board coverage in The Evening Standard, Sunday Times, Economist, Property Week, Estates Gazette and CoStar. The event hashtag (#LandAidDebate) was also the fourth most mentioned hashtag in the capital and was trending in London throughout the debate.

Here, we outline our key highlights from the discussion on the night:

  • London’s green belt proved a key topic of the debate with cross-party consensus over its protection dismaying the real estate industry crowd, who had demanded the release of green land in order to build the 1.8 million homes needed by 2030
  • Conservative candidate Zac Goldsmith argued he could “secure a good deal from government” on making available publicly-owned land and expanding the TFL network
  • Goldsmith slated Labour rival Sadiq Khan’s plans for a transport fare freeze, claiming that such a policy would leave a “£2bn black hole” in the mayoral budget
  • Sadiq criticised Zac’s plans for £450,000 Starter Homes as unaffordable, and promised half of all new homes built under his leadership would be genuinely affordable ‘homes for Londoners’ to rent and buy
  • Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon proposed to turn the £20 Olympic council tax paid each year by Londoners into a housing levy to raise £50m for new homes
  • Pidgeon provoked the biggest reaction of the night from the audience when she lambasted the Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater as “a blight on London”
  • All the candidates agreed a radical approach was needed to solve capital’s surging levels of homelessness, Khan labelled the crisis “a scar on London”, and applauded LandAid’s ambition to tackle it. Goldsmith agreed, calling the issue a “source of huge shame”, suggesting the roll-out of a No First Night Out scheme

Redwood has been providing strategic communications advice to LandAid since 2011 on a pro-bono basis and the debate continues to be a key media milestone for activity.

LandAid is the property industry charity, working to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people in the UK. From April 2016, LandAid will concentrate all its efforts on helping to end one of the most pressing issues of our time: youth homelessness. Redwood is advising LandAid in the launch of this campaign, to unite the property and construction industry behind one philanthropic aim. For more information about LandAid and how Redwood supports the charity, please click here.